Part Two of “Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. Which Language was the New Testament written in, and should it matter?”

As promised, I have dug up (and will now insert below) my very first exchange written on the forum of a certain Messianic/Nazarene/Israelite group. This is the one that started the ball rolling and eventually made its way over to uThinkology, under the title “Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. Which language was the New Testament written in, and should it matter?”

The above link to the article written on August 31, 2010, contains a fuller explanation of the issue at hand, and it has drawn a fair amount of attention from various parts of the world. If you have not read it, I recommend you do so for an understanding of the background prior to moving forward in this post. Although the subject is not entirely new, it is worth noting and being at least familiar with it, especially if you hold to the credibility of the New Testament canon.

These types of quasi-cultic movements, such as I seek to challenge in a loving dialogue, both here at uThinkology and elsewhere, all have their niche. They offer, as it were, secret insights for the Christian community. And generally speaking, many Christians seem to fear that there may be a portion of truth somewhere out there, unknown to the majority while lying in the possession of an elite minority. To the sincere seeker of truth, if he is unsuspecting or ill-equipped, these “secrets” and “insights” have a strong appeal when first encountered. And unfortunately, many do fall prey to them.

We all need a careful eye, and none of us can afford NOT to prayerfully ask the right questions when faced with anything that seems new or claims to offer an all-inclusive, never-before-seen package deal on truth. So what I hope to offer here is one more look at a real-life exchange. The holes in their wall should become immediately apparent to you as you take a closer look.

Lastly, if you find yourself with more questions than are answered for you here, feel free to post them in the comments section. I’d love to have other uThinkology readers join in with their thoughts and perhaps even help field some of the questions along with myself. At the very least, uThinkology can help direct you to the best resources available. Now for that forum post dated March 28, 2010. Please note the sad state of deception this dear sister finds herself in, while she also sniffs out some of the false doctrine from the forum to which she posted:

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Paulette says:

I have not read “Fossilized Customs” – yet (plan to order it today). But I have read just about everything on the website. I “stumbled” upon this site when I went searching for the Truth about the word “Christian” – it is only found three times in the Bible and in at least one of these instances it doesn’t fit. The Holy Spirit has been showing me all kinds of things (I don’t go to church but I can’t find any that teach Truth, so I have to rely on Him to show me Truth) – such as we are supposed to celebrate the Sabbath and the Feasts. But He has also shown me that the Bible was translated by the Catholics – which made me want to find another copy straight from the Hebrew. I knew that Greek was not the original language the New Testament was written in. In my search for a English translation from the Hebrew, and for the word Christian I came upon this website – and found that I am a Natsarim! This was yesterday morning. I spent the day processing all this new info – plus I checked out many other sites about the Natsarim – all saying the same thing. This is real. This is Truth! We must follow the Torah!

A tiny little thing Lew – on one of your pages you mention that “immersion” will remove sin – perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote or perhaps you left out a word, but bapism in water is only an outward sign that one has accepted Yahusha Ha’ Mashiach as their Savior – He is the only One who can remove our sin.

Paulette

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Mark Nigro says:

Dear Paulette,

Where did you see that the Bible was translated by catholics? The NT has Greek manuscripts dating back to the second century, long before Constantine made “christianity” the state religion (325 AD), after which Roman, and I stress Roman, Catholicism became a hodgepodge of political and religious activities. Furthermore, I believe you are confusing translation for correlation of the New Testament canon, which, by the way, was done with the original texts in Greek and not in English.

Regarding the language the NT was written in, just think about this: The gospel of Mark, for example, contains several explanations for terms that were written in Aramaic (a close relative of Hebrew) and Jewish customs, because a Gentile audience would not understand them. This shows us that Mark wrote not to a Jewish audience (who would have no need of such explanations) but to a Gentile one. Likewise, Luke addresses his gospel to Theophilus, a Greek. Why would he have written his gospel originally in Hebrew if writing it to a Greek that did not speak Hebrew?

As for the other NT books being in Greek, let’s not forget that much of the early church’s ministry was to the Greek-speaking culture outside of Jerusalem. Just follow their journey through the book of Acts and you’ll see what I mean. Think about the letters written to the churches throughout Asia minor. There is nothing Holy or unholy about a language, it is the content, the message, that matters.

Be careful not to get caught up in things that have the appearance of holiness but offer nothing in the way of true sanctification which is by the Holy Spirit alone (1 Peter 1:2). And as you said, immersion in water for baptism DOES NOT remove sin. You were right on and have discernment regarding that aspect of the false teaching you see on the Fossilized Customs site. Keep looking with a prayerful eye and you’ll find a lot more!

In closing my post to you, consider these following verses from Colossians, and remember, be careful about knee-jerk reactions to what you read on the internet.

“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch! (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) – in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 2:20-3:2)

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2 responses to “Part Two of “Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. Which Language was the New Testament written in, and should it matter?”

  1. Good job Mark! I like your blog.
    Looking at what Paulette wrote, there are few thoughts that I will like to share.

    -That NT was written in Greek is view that almost all scholars agree upon, and as you pointed out Mark and Luke have great details in their accounts to prove that. Plus, majority of quotations found in NT come from Septuagint (as you mentioned in your other post). Why would authors of NT bother to use Greek translation of OT if they were writing on Aramaic? Why not just use Hebrew or Aramaic translation?

    Most likely, all NT writers used Greek and knew Greek, as most of the Roman world. It’s most logical to use Greek then if you want to get the word out to masses. You don’t want your copier to bother with translating from Aramaic, which at that time not many spoke and Greek they did. (Not the greatest point, but still valid)

    -Second, Catholics would use Latin, as would Romans of NT times. But as you mentioned Mark, Roman Catholics as a movement in the church didn’t exist at that time, and yet Latin translations of NT were in circulation prior to Christianity becoming “state religion”. So, that will make it impossible for “Catholic translation” thesis to be valid. (But I’m not fully sure what she means by Catholic translation, so I’m working on what I’ve heard in past from some others.)

    -Why, then all the early translations of the NT (like Latin, Coptic, Armenian…) seem to be translated from Greek, and we have some of these translations dated quite early, even as 2nd century. (This may not be the strongest point but is still worth considering) Some of these languages are closer as a language family to Aramaic then Greek.

    -She makes a point that He (I assume she refers to Holy Spirit) revealed to her that the Bible was translated by Catholics; that she is to keep Sabbath and Feasts. Now, how does she know exactly that it was the Holy Spirit that showed her that? What if the evidence is to be otherwise? Will she concede that she was wrong? Or will she refuse to believe evidence on a basis of “faith” (I know this to be true since I’ve prayed about it and Holy Spirit showed me)? I don’t mean to demean her; I mean this with all respect. What can she present to us that her claim is valid when she says that it came from the Holy Spirit?

    She makes a claim that no church teaches Truth? Ok, how does she know that? What is Truth according to her? What is the standard of determining the truth? If truth is objective (meaning that there is universal standard of determining it) then it would be easy to set a standard for what is truth.

    I do think that these are valid questions. But first we need to determine how we know that something is true, so that everyone can agree upon starting point. If we can’t agree on starting point (how do you determine something to be true) then anything that is consequence of that is useless to debate, since we would have different standards. It’s like talking to Mormons about grace; their definition is different than ours, and salvation by grace means something else to them then it does to us.

    I hope that what things above are clear.

  2. Dejan, thanks for commenting. You make valid and important points, some of which every Christian should consider for a more consistent and reasonable approach to their Christian faith and daily walk. Bless you brother.

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